Robert Anderson is where he wants to be.
The former Toledoan started his new job as Northwood administrator Sept. 4 and is busy learning his way around the small city at the top of Wood County with its 5,200 residents, 34 employees, and a $4.5 million operating budget.
He feels right at home, he said, by which he means in a northwest Ohio community.
Mr. Anderson comes to Northwood from East Jordan, Mich., a town half the size of Northwood on the south leg of Lake Charlevoix, where he held the same position he fills in Northwood.
"It's a great place to vacation, and it has great people, but it was too far away from my family," he said.
The population numbers for Northwood don't tell the whole story, he said, because the city is part of a much larger metropolitan area, abutting Rossford on the west, Toledo on the north, Perrysburg Township, Walbridge, and Lake Township on the south, and Ottawa County on the east.
"We're part of a big community here, with the amenities a big community offers," he said. "Getting around is easy. We have great access to transportation."
Mr. Anderson, 63, grew up in West Toledo and graduated from St. Francis de Sales High School. He received a bachelor's degree from Ohio State University. From 2002 to 2007, he was the administrator in Springfield Township, a position he left only because his then-wife wanted to move out of state. He also has served stints as a municipal administrator in small towns in South Carolina and Georgia, and was the administrator in Paulding County, Ohio.
City council approved hiring him at its Aug. 23 meeting, acting on a recommendation from Mayor Mark Stoner. The vote was 5-0, with members David Gallaher and Connie Hughes absent. The city received 40 resumes from candidates interested in the position.
Mayor Stoner said Mr. Anderson's being from the area worked in his favor, and he interviewed well.
"Everybody on council was in favor of him. Everybody liked him," Mr. Stoner said.
Mr. Anderson's salary is $77,288, and he has a six-month probationary period. He replaces Dennis Recker, who abruptly retired May 14. Police Chief Tom Cairl filled in as administrator and his captain, Jeff Zahradnik, handled added police duties.
For now, Mr. Anderson said his focus is learning about people and places in Northwood.
"I want to familiarize myself with the locations of our parks and businesses. I want to meet everyone, including all the board and commission members and school officials," he said. "I don't plan any big changes right away. I have to learn my way around."
In his early days on the job, he added, he is depending on Chief Cairl, a long-time Northwood hand, and the city's attorney, Brian Ballenger.
He also is looking for a place to live in Northwood, and for the time being is staying with a friend in Perrysburg. Off duty, he spends time with his daughter and young grandson, who live in Berkey. He also has a son and granddaughter in Los Angeles. He is divorced, but jokes that he doesn't lack for companionship. He has two Boston terriers that he refers to as "my girls."
"I'm extremely happy to be in Northwood," he said. "Everybody has exceeded my expectations."